Lone complaint changes RV parking

By: Jon Brines, Placer Herald Correspondent
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Two weeks after Rocklin City Council approved a new stricter RV and accessory vehicle parking ordinance, a concerned citizen confronted the council, and the ordinance was changed on the spot. “(The ordinance) unfairly discriminates against those of us who use our RVs frequently,” Stanford Ranch RV owner Jim Socha told city council last Tuesday. At issue was the seven-day parking limit in the ordinance. The ordinance states: “An Accessory Vehicle observed to be parked for a period of seven days within any 30-day period, or on the public street, shall be prima facie evidence of a stored Accessory Vehicle in violation of this section.” The section then states that the operator must take it to a proper storage facility for RVs to avoid a fine. After an initial warning, violators of the ordinance can expect a $100 fine, then $200 for the second violation and $300 for the third. Socha explained under that seven days a month rule, he would be limited to taking his RV out of storage just twice per month — which he said was unfair during the summer months. “Two days to prepare the RV and one day to take it back to storage are real numbers,” Socha said. “I think it’s really unfair how the city can dictate how frequently I use my own piece of property.” City Attorney Russell Hildebrand, who helped write the ordinance, defended the time period. “If my rules of engagement are, ‘I need seven days to prepare my vehicle before I can go on a trip,’ then yes, the unintended consequence is we would limit your ability to use your vehicle,” Hildebrand said. Councilman Brett Storey explained the intent behind the clause. “Our reasoning here was to stop all the habitual movers from one side of the street to the other and annoying all the neighbors,” Storey said. Socha told them he wants to follow the rules, but also have his freedom. Mayor George Magnuson offered a compromise of changing the ordinance to a nine-day limit per the 30-day period. “That would give you three weekends a month, two days before and one day after (the RV trip),” Magnuson said. Councilman Peter Hill said he would rather not change the ordinance now, but the other council members disagreed, including retired councilwoman Kathy Lund, who represented herself at the meeting. “I use to have one,” Lund told council. “Seven days a month is just not enough for people who are RV people.” Hildebrand conceded nine or seven days would have little effect on enforcement. “The folks that we are dealing with are parking there 30 days out of 30 days,” Hildebrand said. The council voted unanimously to update the ordinance to nine days. After the meeting, Socha said he was surprised at the council’s swift action to his complaint. “It shows that they are willing to listen and compromise based upon common sense and logic,” Socha said. After seeing the original report on the ordinance in The Placer Herald, Socha said he wanted to know if there was, in fact, two different time limits for the street and a person’s yard. According to the city, the ordinance states: “In residential zones, temporary parking of a single accessory vehicle shall be permitted in the front yard or street side yard setback for a period not to exceed 48 consecutive hours for the purposes of loading, unloading, cleaning and general maintenance.” The vehicle code allows it to be parked on the street for up to 72 hours. The ordinance takes effect Feb. 11.